This Day in History: Texas City Disaster
On 16 April 1947, in the port of Texas City, Texas, the freighter GRANDCAMP, with a cargo of ammonium nitrate, small arms ammunition, machinery, and sisal twine, caught fire. The fire quickly spread to the nearby freighter HIGH FLYER, loaded with ammonium nitrate and sulfur. When the two ships exploded, it largely flattened the harbor area. It is estimated that over 600 people died in the explosion and fires (exact numbers were unattainable due to the extent of damage). The US Coast Guard investigation of the casualty determined that the fire was initiated by unauthorized smoking in the cargo hold of the GRANDCAMP. It recommended, among other things, that regulations for carriage of dangerous goods be revised.
(Source: Bryant's Maritime Newsletter)